The Superintendents series of interviews on buffalogolfer shines a light on the keepers of the green in Buffalo-Niagara. Chances are, you know the starter and the club pro. Have you met your course or club superintendent? If not, find out where she/he works on the grounds and make a point of getting to know the person who keeps the grass cut, the bunkers raked, and so much more that you never considered. This week’s interview is Adam Mis of Brookfield Country Club in Clarence.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, where you work, and how long you’ve been there.
2. How did you get into golf course grounds and maintenance? Did your education/training propel you that way?
1/2 My name is Adam Mis and have been the golf course superintendent at Brookfield County Club in Clarence for over fifteen years. I am originally from North Tonawanda but have lived all over the county before coming back home to Western NY. During my freshman/sophomore years of high School I worked after school and weekends at Highlands Falls CC in North Carolina. I returned to North Tonawanda for my junior/ senior years of high school. My original career path was to be a building architect. I moved to Florida for college, but with only a semester complete, I really missed being on the golf course. I ended up moving back to North Carolina and working at the same club for a year to save money for turf school. I attended NC State University. After graduation my first superintendent job was in Washington DC at a 36 hole golf facility. After a few years I took a new job in New Jersey where I spent seven years until the position at Brookfield CC opened and I was hired in 2001. Brookfield has been a great place to work with a great membership.
3. What aspect of golf course maintenance is the most critical/the most difficult, that the average golfer/member would have no idea about?
3/This profession can be very challenging. We are in the service industry and making 400 plus people happy all the time can be a challenge. Everything we do in this business is dependent on the weather. We live in Western NY. If you don’t like the weather wait 10 minutes.
4. In contrast, what aspect of golf course upkeep is overrated, yet you keep hearing about it.
4/ If you watch golf on TV you will hear Johnny Miller talk about grain on greens all the time. These days we mow so low I believe it is not as much a factor for putting as 20 years ago.
5. Some people love trees. How do you feel about trees on a golf course?
5/ I love trees in a park or forest. Sometimes golf courses get overplanted and not only effect the over design and sight lines but make the course much more difficult for the higher handicap players. Courses with specimen trees planted in the right locations are beautiful.
6. Talk to us about fairway width, mowing lines, and thick rough versus fairway cut. What sort of balance should be struck between penal golf and welcoming golf?
6/ The Club has been around since 1927. The fairways width have been cut in half throughout the decades. We just finished an extensive Golf course renovation in 2014 which included: some new tees, complete bunker renovations, tree removals, and resurfacing all our cart paths. It really improved the overall appearance and playability. I believe golf courses should be designed and maintained so the game is easier for the novice golfer. These days everyone is so busy and time is precious. We want people to enjoy the game and add a new generation of golfers.
7. If you had all the money/support from your ownership/membership, what direction would you point them, that they might not be aware of?
7/ one thing that I would love to do is renovate the old turf grasses at the club. In the last 10 years there have been some great new varieties of turf grasses developed. The new grasses need less water, less fertilizer, and are more resilient to temperature changes. This would require killing existing grass and seeding new varieties into those areas.
8. Talk to us a bit about your grounds crew. How many do you have on staff and what is the critical part of assembling a top-notch crew?
8/ Labor is always a challenge. We start early, have to work very efficient, and priorities change from minute to minute. We have a small window to provide the optimal conditions before the players tee off in the morning. We need to be prepared to work in all weather conditions. You need to hire a team that enjoys it and we all need to be on the same page to be successful. The golf course conditions and expectations have intensified since the 80s when I started. Technology has played a huge part in the conditioning. We can mow lower, get better quality of cut, apply products more accurately, and manage our water more efficiently than ever before with the use of irrigation systems, weather stations, soil probes, moisture meters, and wetting agents. All these things allow us to provide better playing conditions.
9. What question haven’t we asked, that you would like to answer? Ask it and answer it, please, and thank you for your time today.
9/What new technologies in Golf could help do your job better?
We incorporate GPS technology at the Club. This helps us apply our fertilizers and protectants more accurate than ever before. This saves money, uses less products, applies product exactly where needed, accuracy with in a half inch every time, and great for the environment.